Michel Gondry is adapting Philip K. Dick's Ubik

Illustration for article titled Michel Gondry is adapting Philip K. Dick's Ubik

Philip K. Dick's insanely complicated, mind-bending novel Ubik is being adapted by Michel Gondry. It's a match made in creepy alternate universe heaven. Clotted milk and stale cigarettes for everyone!


The news comes from French site Allocine which we've loosely translated for you here:

To celebrate the launch of The Factory Movie Lovers [an exhibit] at the Centre Pompidou, [Paris], Michel Gondry has revealed he was currently working on an adaptation of Ubik, novel written by Philip K. Dick in 1966.

His Green Hornet continues on its merry way through the halls, but Michel Gondry is not resting so far and today launches its plant amateur films, exposure like no other and in line with its feature films, held Centre Pompidou until March 7. And after? ... The director has revealed he was currently working on a major project: the adaptation of Ubik, written by Philip K. Dick in 1966. If the film version of the letter follows the novel that inspired it, it will be about a man, unable to determine whether he is alive or dead after an explosion, which sees the world disintegrate before his eyes.

It would take a very brave director to translate Philip K. Dick's classic novel, but if anyone can do it, Gondry can. He's got the right blend of dementia and poignancy, that can make you laugh out loud while cowering under the blankets at a pack of shrieking faceless doctors (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless anyone?). And Ubik has a little bit of everything — comedy, drama, death, crazy science-fictional scenarios that never really exist, and a great main character, Joe Chip! It's the sort of stuff that could bring back the Gondry we loved.

For those of you who haven't read the novel, here's a pretty good synopsis (slightly spoilery) from Amazon of all the craziness:

Nobody but Philip K. Dick could so successfully combine SF comedy with the unease of reality gone wrong, shifting underfoot like quicksand. Besides grisly ideas like funeral parlors where you swap gossip for the advice of the frozen dead, Ubik (1969) offers such deadpan farce as a moneyless character's attack on the robot apartment door that demands a five-cent toll:

"I'll sue you," the door said as the first screw fell out.

Joe Chip said, "I've never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it."

Chip works for Glen Runciter's anti-psi security agency, which hires out its talents to block telepathic snooping and paranormal dirty tricks. When its special team tackles a big job on the Moon, something goes terribly wrong. Runciter is killed, it seems—but messages from him now appear on toilet walls, traffic tickets, or product labels. Meanwhile, fragments of reality are timeslipping into past versions: Joe Chip's beloved stereo system reverts to a hand-cranked 78 player with bamboo needles. Why does Runciter's face appear on U.S. coins? Why the repeated ads for a hard-to-find universal panacea called Ubik ("safe when taken as directed")?

The true, chilling state of affairs slowly becomes clear, though the villain isn't who Joe Chip thinks. And this is Dick country, where final truths are never quite final and—with the help of Ubik—the reality/illusion balance can still be tilted the other way.

Via The Playlist


Annalee Newitz

Maybe Jonathan Lethem can write the screenplay. I hear he's a pretty big fan of the novel.